When Disaster Management Agencies Create Disaster Risk

A Case Study of the US's Federal Emergency Management Agency

Published in: Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal (2021). doi: 10.1108/DPM-03-2021-0067

Posted on RAND.org on September 28, 2021

by Aaron Clark-Ginsberg, Lena Easton-Calabria, Sonny Patel, Jay Balagna, Leslie Adrienne Payne

Read More

Access further information on this document at Emerald Insight

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

Purpose

Disaster management agencies are mandated to reduce risk for the populations that they serve. Yet, inequities in how they function may result in their activities creating disaster risk, particularly for already vulnerable and marginalized populations. In this article, how disaster management agencies create disaster risk for vulnerable and marginalized groups is examined, seeking to show the ways existing policies affect communities, and provide recommendations on policy and future research.

Design/Methodology/Approach

The authors undertook a systematic review of the US disaster management agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), examining its programs through a lens of equity to understand how they shape disaster risk.

Findings

Despite a growing commitment to equity within FEMA, procedural, distributive, and contextual inequities result in interventions that perpetuate and amplify disaster risk for vulnerable and marginalized populations. Some of these inequities could be remediated by shifting toward a more bottom-up approach to disaster management, such as community-based disaster risk reduction approaches.

Practical Implications

Disaster management agencies and other organizations can use the results of this study to better understand how to devise interventions in ways that limit risk creation for vulnerable populations, including through community-based approaches.

Originality/Value

This study is the first to examine disaster risk creation from an organizational perspective, and the first to focus explicitly on how disaster management agencies can shape risk creation. This helps understand the linkages between disaster risk creation, equity and organizations.

Research conducted by

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.